Recycling Paint

Recycling paint might sound like an odd thing to do, but it can be done and should be encouraged for a number of reasons.

All paints contain harmful chemicals which are known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which contribute to atmospheric pollution. Some paints such as glosses contain more VOCs than others such as emulsions.

Paint production itself also creates a level of pollution, especially when you consider the average amount of carbon generated in their transportation.

Many countries have their own systems in place to monitor environmental damage caused by paint.

For example, in Australia, the Australian Paint Approval Scheme (APAS) recognises the importance of careful monitoring of paint disposal and/or re-use. Active in environmental and occupational health and safety, APAS had worked with the industry body the Australian Paint Manufacturers Federation (APMF) in 1997 to set limits for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paints and coatings. Through their websites, APAS has also provided some useful tips (some of which appear below) on the re-use, storing and disposal of paint.

Whether you are a home-maker who purchased paint to decorate your home, or a professional home renovator who had to paint your clients’ homes, it is not uncommon for you to have leftovers of paint. So what can you do with it?

Why not try recycling paint?

When we talk about recycling paint, we are often referring to what we can do with unwanted or leftover paint.

So how do we go about recycling paint?

In many countries, the easiest way to of recycling paint is to find paint recycling schemes. This is where organisations within a community collect unused paint and use it to paint deprived areas or buildings of organisations working on tight budgets. For example, in UK, the Community RePaint scheme collects leftover, unsold or damaged paint for donation to charities, local communities and individuals.

In the US, paint can also be sent to Amazon Environmental, a company established in California in 1992. Amazon Environmental mixes the same-coloured paints that are collected and refine them so that they are in as good a quality as un-recycled paints. This allows the unwanted paint to be usable again.

Also, check out the other recycling collection centres that take in unwanted paint.

There may also be instances where paint can be used to absorb the calcium dioxide in lime dust to make cement.

The main problem with paint recycling will be maintaining its quality. Nonetheless, the quality of the paint can be protected by storing it correctly and making sure that no debris or contaminants enter the paint.

Below are some tips on using paint and maintaining its quality.

  • Try to calculate how much paint you will need to cover your walls. This helps you reduce wastage (ie. so that, this will mean that you may save money on the amount of paint you buy in the first place.

  • Read the instructions on the back of the tin before application. They will advise on the VOC content. If the paint has a high VOC content, then ensure that there is good ventilation when you carry out your painting works. Also note how many coats you may need. (Don’t overuse!)

  • Don't ever work out of the paint can, even if you are only doing edges. Instead, pour some paint into a paint kettle (professional terminology for a small bucket), as this prevents you collecting debris on your brush and contaminating paint in the tin. In this way, you can keep the paint in the main can clean longer, for future use.

  • Remove the lid carefully when opening the paint can. There may be some dried up paint on the underside of the lid or edges of the tin. Be careful not to have dried paint fall back into the paint, as this may contaminate the can of paint, and render it un-useable in future. (What a waste!)

  • Go for white paint, for mixing with other colours to obtain the shade of colour you want, instead of purchasing specific paint of a particular shade. This is because white paint is more readily usable in many other situations. Not only is this environmentally more friendly, it also helps you cut costs!

Where To Send Unwanted Paint
For Recycling?

If you take in unwanted paint for recycling, I would love to share your service with my readers.

Anyone intending to get ride of their unwanted paint will definitely find your service information very useful.

Please share with us the following details:
- location of paint collection centre(s)
- type / condition of unwanted paint that would be rejected/accepted by collection centre(s)
- any fees incurred / reimbursement given for using the recycling service
- any additional service(s) provided (e.g. free transportation of unwanted paint to collection centre)
- contact(s) for queries

Note that regrettably, we are unable to provide links to external webpages.

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